Spanish and Moroccan police on Tuesday arrested seven members of a group suspected to be involved in recruiting women from the two countries for the Islamic State group, according to media reports. Authorities have reportedly seen a sharp increase in the recruitment of women from Europe for ISIS in the past year.
Spain's interior ministry said that four women, one of them a minor, and three men were suspected to be part of the recruiting network, and were arrested in the mainland city of Barcelona; the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa; and, in the nearby Moroccan town of Fnideq, also known under the Spanish name of Castillejos. Moroccan authorities said, in a statement, that the group had planned to use the women as suicide bombers or marry them off to jihadi fighters, The Associated Press reported.
"All of the arrested are accused of forming part of a network that recruited and sent women to the Syria-Iraq front to the terrorist organization Daesh,” Moroccan authorities said, using a term for ISIS used by several governments, Agence France-Presse reported.
The arrests were reportedly made in a joint effort by Spanish and Moroccan security forces. Authorities revealed that at least six houses were searched during the operation. European authorities reportedly said that these networks, many of which operate through the Internet, target young people and urge them to join ISIS’ fight against the West.
In August, Spanish police had detained a 14-year-old girl and a 19-year-old woman in the Spanish enclave of Melilla, which shares a border with Morocco, on suspicion of trying to join the extremist group fighting in Iraq and Syria, according to media reports.